From the Archives: Fallout shelter becomes photo lab

Apr. 28, 1971: Students at Dunn School in Santa Ynez Valley work in photo lab in one end of the scho
April 28, 1971: Students at Dunn School in the Santa Ynez Valley work in a photo lab set up at one end of the school’s fallout shelter.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

In a May 30, 1971, article, Los Angeles Times staff writer Eric Malnic reported on the conversion to new uses of 1960s-era fallout shelters, including this large one at the Dunn School. Malnic wrote:

One thing about fallout shelters — they are built to last.

Which is why virtually every one of the about 4,000 private underground shelters constructed in Los Angeles County in the era of the Berlin and Cuban crises is still around….

Perhaps the most versatile shelter in Southern California is a 20-by-60-foot concrete and steel chamber built to accommodate the 85 students of a private high school in the Santa Ynez Valley.


Depending on when you step into either end of it, you may find it a visiting team’s dressing room, a photography laboratory and dark room, a storeroom, a projection room, a meditation room for the school’s occasional transcendental mediators or a dormitory for dates and their chaperons. “It used to serve as a practice room for our rock ‘n roll band,” said Bill Webb, headmaster of the Dunn School, “but we gave it up because we were afraid the boys could go deaf down there.” ...

The Dunn School’s shelter was built by headmaster Tony Dunn, an Englishman familiar with the horrors of the World War II blitz in London. Dunn passed away in 1967, but the school kept the shelter for other uses.

From left in the above image are students Herb Yang, 16; Jon Sinclair, 18; Liz Shannon, 16; Henry Hassfeld, 17; and Randy Clark, 18.

The post was originally published on Nov. 3, 2011.


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